I wasn’t even supposed to be here.
No, really. Me graduating from the University of Miami in three weeks? Never. Higher education for me was unattainable a little more than four years ago.
Or so I thought.
It’s not that I didn’t believe in myself or that high school didn’t prepare me well. But there were other hurdles beyond an application.
At 17, I had absolutely no idea how to apply to a college, what FAFSA meant or even how to study for the ACT.
My mom didn’t finish college. My dad didn’t go to college. And my older brother didn’t either. When I started my college applications at home, in a lot of ways, I was lost.
But if my parents could leave everything they knew and come to the United States with merely a distant dream for a prosperous future, I couldn’t let them down.
For the first two years of college, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was doing well in my classes but felt like I was missing something. That something turned out to be the talented and driven individuals that comprise The Miami Hurricane.
TMH has given me confidence and the ability to tell stories from voices not often heard.
Every person I’ve walked past in college has a story. TMH has afforded me the opportunity to get to know so many of you and tell your stories.
I’ve been able to work in the field that I’ve dreamt about since I was 5 years old, thanks to TMH. I’ve been able to tell the stories of so many remarkable people that walk across this campus every day. I’ve been able to cover some of recent history’s most monumental moments, including the Women’s March on Washington and the 2017 presidential inauguration.
But I couldn’t have done that without my family. Both my family at home and the little family we’ve cultivated at TMH.
As I’m on the cusp of graduation, I understand how truly lucky I am.
The experiences and opportunities I’ve had are some that students in El Salvador would never even imagine. And I’m here.
It’s hard not to feel guilty at times, but I’ve realized the best thing I can do is to use these valuable experiences to give back to those who I could have been, given other circumstances.
UM and TMH have given me the opportunity to do so in the future.
So maybe I was meant to be here.
Amanda Herrera will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism and political science.